Could Summer Fade Already?

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This morning, I swear I could smell fall in the air. It’s still July, but it was there, that cool morning crispness, that edge that evokes apples and cinnamon. It doesn’t matter that I’m surrounded by the peaks of summer fruits, by the peaches and the nectarines and the berries and the cherries. The gorgeous cherries, some black, some bright red, some speckled.

No, it was a hint of what will be coming, soon. The bright green of the leaves in the park will take on a glow, and then pale, and then head toward their yellows and oranges. Full, fervent greens don’t last long, not here in Chicago where the city settles into the cold as easily as zipping up a down coat.

It’s hard not to think of what comes next, even when you’re right in the middle of what comes now, right in the middle of sunshine(ish) and warm air and flowers. It’s hard not to think of the wind that will cut, that will shake the brittle leaves from the trees, will send them scuttling underfoot.

Right now it’s summer. But summers come and go, autumns come and go, and winters arrive. Until it’s spring, and round we go again.

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Even Writing Has its Laundry

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Well, my reprieve has ended, the drilling is back. It’s not overwhelming, not by any means, but I’d like to have the silence. The silence was nice (Well, unless you’re the Doctor, but that’s something else all together).

Now I have to return to thinking around the drilling, which can be done, of course. Just not quite as pleasantly.

Today will be filled with mindless tasks, anyway, the laundry of writing, not the writing itself. It’s amazing how much of that there is, the endless stuff around what you actually want to be doing that needs attention, again and again. There isn’t a job around that doesn’t have its laundry, the things that, no matter how often you do them, come around to having to be done once more.

So it’s fine if a portion of my brain is dealing with the distant sound of a drill bit biting through concrete, it’s no bigger than the portion that will actually deal with my Thursday tasks. Maybe that’s the problem with laundry.

Not intellectual enough.

What I’d really like to do today is grab my Kindle and head outside to read, take in the air and sunshine, and forget all about laundry, the writing kind or otherwise. But that’s the thing with laundry.

If you don’t do it, it piles up.

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Savoring the Flavor of Silence

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It’s an absolutely gorgeous day, and to make it all the better, it seems that they’re not doing work on the building, I suspect, because of the wind. The platform fights against its tethers where they’ve left it anchored, and the flag looks nearly ironed.

It’s probably not safe to be dangling on the side of a building today.

I’d nearly forgotten what the silence sounds like. Or the sort-of silence, I live in the city, so there’s always a background hum of traffic or helicopters, punctuated now and then with the shriek of a siren. But today’s been, so far, remarkably peaceful.

I don’t know that I’ve ever appreciated it, a long stretch of quiet. It’s something I took for granted before the sounds of hammering and drilling through concrete became so familiar, they started to fade to levels that I could almost ignore.

Sometimes it’s good to just stop and take note. Note what you hear and what you don’t hear. What it feels like to sit with a welcome silence. What it feels like to sit with a silence too empty. To know that there are as many flavors of silence as there are of ice-cream, with some every bit as delightful.

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Editing is the CPR of Writing

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I finished another round of edits yesterday, picking my way through the manuscript and hitting the end. And this time, it’s finally starting to feel like a book.

Phew.

It happens every time. I go back and see what I’ve put down during the writing phase, and sometimes, it seems like it falls apart in my hands, this bit and that bit and that one. But slowly, pass by pass, it finally starts to take shape until it’s something.

I’m not done, not by any means, but with this run through, I got to the point where I could see it, gleaming below the surface, the whole thing. It’s like sculpting, I imagine, with the way some people describe it as seeing what is already in the stone.

But until that happens, the nagging doubt dominates. Was it a waste of time? Were they pointless, all those hours of fingers flying over keyboard, all that time staring out of the window and seeing nothing but what should come next?

For the first time since writing that final sentence, I’m hoping maybe not. Writing gives you the raw material, but it’s the editing that gives the material life.

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Writing is the Internal Battle of Wills

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There was a time when I’d treat a sluggish brain with a nice dose of coffee and be on my way with whatever it was I needed to do. Sadly, that time is no more; for a myriad of reasons, I can no longer have caffeine.

On the plus side, shakiness and a pounding heart are (mostly) a thing of the past. On the negative, though, I don’t get that quick hit of alertness.

I miss that quick hit of alertness. Especially on a Monday morning when my brain is trying to do anything but think. So what is there to do?

As is nearly always the answer, get on with it. Maybe my brain will have to do a few laps before it gets circulation to the crevices. Writing (and editing, which is where I am right now) is, at its center-most point, a contest of wills.

Yours against yours.

Sometimes we can use crutches like coffee. Sometimes we simply can’t. Sometimes people use crutches like alcohol. That one you really shouldn’t.

We all have to face the page somehow, whether it’s nearly blank one with a blinking cursor at the end and nothing but white space ahead, or one that’s chock-full of words you have to shape into something remotely readable. It’s that battle, I think, that is the hardest in writing.

Well, I may have lost one of the weapons in my arsenal, but I haven’t yet lost the war. Productivity is a choice, sometimes made minutes at a time.

Sluggish brain or no sluggish brain.

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Are Reading Subscriptions the Future?

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Maybe it’s a good thing that I discovered a trove of library ebooks so vast, I can’t keep up with my checkouts, because Amazon just launched Kindle Unlimited. For $9.99 a month, you have unlimited access to, according to the info on the site, 600,000 titles.

For a reader, that’s mighty tempting. But like Netflix DVDs and other entertainment subscriptions, if you don’t keep up with them, they’re not doing you any good. You have to make sure you’d get your money’s worth.

As a writer, however, it offers an added layer of plus-side to the KDP Select program. By making your book exclusive to Amazon, it’s already collection, and you get paid when people borrow it.

Overall, though, it’s Amazon, yet again, finding a way for wins all around. There aren’t really any losers in the Amazon publishing model. Readers will come out ahead as long as they read three books or so a month; fewer if they stick to the major publishers. Writers could see a bump in inncome from the service.

Me? I still have a bunch of library books on my Kindle. I’m practically drowning in books.

What a way to go.

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Write Right Through the Bumpy Bits

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Today, to go along with the ever-present drilling, my water is supposed to be off for some work they’re doing to the plumbing. Kitchen and bathroom. I say “supposed to be,” because it seems it’s still running, but I’m prepared. I have water in the tub, in the sink, containers to wash my hands, and water to drink in the fridge.

Sometimes you just have to barrel through, regardless.

Writing is like that, quite often, in fact. Things come at you, whether they take your time, or make it less comfortable. Sometimes it’s the writing itself, a tight, self-wound knot that just won’t come loose no matter how you work it. Sometimes the writing, or the tasks that come along with it, are constant drilling and no water.

But interruptions end, eventually. The water returns (let’s hope) and the workmen go home. The sticky part in your work gets de-stickified or you work around it, confident in a smarter, more savvy future self who can put the problem to rest.

The path doesn’t have to be smooth for you to take it.

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